- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

Neglect was not 'wanton'

So The Washington Times wants Kevin C. Kelly to go to prison for "wanton neglect" ("Wanton neglect," Editorial, yesterday). We pose two questions. First, is "wanton neglect" an accurate portrayal of events? Second, what purpose would imprisonment serve?
As to the first, the definition of "wanton" is: "a. Gratuitously cruel; merciless. b. Marked by unprovoked, gratuitous maliciousness; capricious and unjust: wanton destruction." No one with any sense or familiarity with the case could describe what transpired in this fashion as wanton. There was no maliciousness or cruelty involved whatsoever.
I have met Kelly and know his family, and The Times' portrait of a monstrously negligent father is wholly unfounded. My wife is from a large family, as is Kelly. In large families, parents often rely on older children to keep track of younger ones. In this instance, the system didn't work. A grievous mistake, yes. A lapse of judgment, perhaps. Kelly accepted full responsibility for his error on the stand. But "wanton neglect"? Absolutely not.
Furthermore, it is clear that since Kelley did not commit a willful act of wrongdoing, imprisonment would serve exactly the opposite of the state's purported aim. Rather than protecting anyone, it would be merely punitive. Who would be punished? It would most harshly punish his children by depriving them of their father and their sole provider. Have your reporters asked the children who represents the greatest danger to their well-being the merciless state prosecutor or the remorseful father?
When former Attorney General Janet Reno "accepted responsibility" for the slaughter of numerous children at Waco by deliberate and premeditated action, she not only was not imprisoned, but kept her job as the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the nation. Others defend a woman's "right" to slaughter a child up to a certain stage of development, and the practice, which is wholly premeditated and deliberate, occurs 4,000 times a day in this country.
Why direct your words of harsh "justice" against a broken and penitent father who would already do anything to undo his error?


Fluid v. static law

I found Thomas Sowell's "Judgeships: Part II" (Commentary, Thursday) interesting. Mr. Sowell, however, misses a big point: The law is fluid, a product of the times in which we live.
As we progress as a society, the law must keep up or it is of no use to us. U.S. history is full of instances in which interpretation of law has changed along with a changing society.
I would cite a decision such as Dred Scott or the constitutional revolution that took place after Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was initially struck down on many fronts by the court, as examples that the "written law" is not always the correct one for our times.

San Diego

Three, not four, corners of the world

Wesley Pruden's column "Hard lessons from dead white men" (Nation, Tuesday) quotes Roy Hattersley of the Guardian: "On the day after British troops were evacuated from Dunkirk, the pupils in my primary school all chanted in unison: 'Come the four corners of the world in arms and we shall shock them.'"
Mr. Pruden mustn't believe everything he reads in the Guardian, which tends to exaggerate facts to suit its purposes in general, but in this case probably just made a mistake. The song Mr. Hattersley and his classmates sang actually goes: "Come the three corners of the world in arms/And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,/If England to itself do rest but true."


How not to overcome the intelligence gap

Are my eyes deceiving me? Did Cal Thomas just approve of using wiretaps obtained without warrants for prosecution? ("More power to protect us," Commentary, Friday)
Yes, like a football team that spots its opponent a big lead, we have some catching up to do. But does that excuse cheating? If the Redskins fall behind by 21 points, should the referees overlook penalties so they can catch up? Should we also ignore the Fourth Amendment for drug dealers (certainly threats to the stability of the United States)? How about rapists? Money launderers? Child molesters? Mobsters? If we need this to protect against "terrorists," then why not these other significant threats?
Mr. Thomas counts "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of people in the United States seeking to "undermine the liberties we celebrate." Who knew he was one of them?


Long-distance runners can walk, too

A column by Steve Nearman criticizes me and thousands of runners who use low-mileage training and walk breaks to celebrate the magic moment of finishing a marathon ("Are you a 'runner' if you're walking?" Sports, Nov. 3). I need to correct some inaccuracies.
Mr. Nearman implies that those who use walk breaks should not be considered marathoners. Yet, according to an eyewitness newspaper account, all of the original marathoners in the modern Olympics (Athens, 1896) did significant walking. Bill Rodgers admits taking walk breaks in his wins in New York and Boston marathons. The Galloway scheduled walk breaks allow for a strong finish, a faster recovery, an average finishing time improvement of 13 minutes and more than 100,000 successes.
Since I started running in 1958, almost every runner has wanted to help others enjoy the sport's many benefits. But a few traditionalists criticize techniques that they don't use. Mr. Nearman suggests that only faster runners like himself should be allowed to enter. This runs counter to the history of marathoning in the United States. Practically all marathons were open to all until the 1970s. Even today, most marathons are open to those who finish in six hours or faster.
Mr. Nearman is wrong when he says that the advice I give "goes against everything [I] was as a competitive marathoner." Traditionalists who finished behind me in the 1972 Olympic Trials told me then that my long runs were too long (26 miles) and too slow, and that I took it "too easy" every other day. I've fine-tuned these same principles, which are featured in my RunInjuryFree.com clinics, for more than 25 years.
With the right training program, it's possible to finish a marathon in six hours without having a bad experience like Mr. Nearman did in his first one. For example, those who complete the AIDS Marathon Programs and the RunInjuryFree.com Clubs have each person "go the distance" (26 miles) three weeks before the marathon. Their success rate of more than 98 percent speaks for itself.
Let's look at the big picture. Only one-tenth of 1 percent of the population finishes a marathon yearly. In a nation in which more than half of the population is severely overweight, training for a marathon has transformed millions of former couch potatoes into regular exercisers. For our nation's health, the five-hour and six-hour marathoners may be much more important than the two-hour and three-hour finishers.

U.S. Olympian

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